The Easter exodus out of the main cities is expected to begin this morning, with this afternoon and tomorrow morning expected to be the busiest times on the roads.
Waka Kotahi NZTA has released traffic predictions based on the patterns and busiest periods of previous years.
Aucklanders heading north from the city should expect the traffic to be the worst between 2.30pm and 5.15pm today, 9.15pm to 3.15pm on Friday and 10.45am to 2.15pm on Saturday.
Those travelling south on SH1 between Manukau and Bombay will be met with heavy traffic every day of the Easter break. The heaviest times to avoid are between 2pm and 6pm today, 10am and 2pm on Friday, 8.30am and 2pm on Saturday, 9am and 12.30pm on Sunday and 9.15am and 2pm on Monday.
Traffic will be at its worst heading on SH2 between Paeroa and Waihi between 1.30pm and 6pm today, 10.30am and 4.15pm on Friday, 10.30am and 3pm on Saturday and 11.45am and 1.15pm on Sunday.
SH25 towards the Coromandel and in Tairua will also be at its busiest this afternoon and Friday and Saturday morning.
Those in Canterbury will also be met with a slow journey towards popular holiday spots with SH79 in Geraldine heading west heaviest between 11am and 6.30pm today and Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. Southbound on SH1 between Ashburton and Christchurch is heavy between 2pm and 6.15pm today, 9am to 11.15am on Friday, 10am to 1.45am on Friday and 10.15am to 11.45am on Sunday.
The agency has advised northbound traffic from Wellington to be heaviest between 11.30am and 6pm today, and from 9.30am to 2pm on Friday.
As Wellingtonians return home after Easter, southbound traffic is predicted to be heaviest between 1 and 5pm on Sunday, and from 12 - 6pm Monday.
Waka Kotahi NZTA Regional transport system manager Mark Owen said all routes out of the capital were likely to be more congested than usual.
"We know the traffic will be very heavy on SH1 up the Kāpiti Coast but also people heading over the Wairarapa Region and beyond on SH2 – those roads will probably be busier than normal."
Wet weather likely today and Friday could also make driving more challenging.
"Our plea is that everyone drives to the conditions," Owen said.
"It's really important if it gets wet, we advise people to slow down, be mindful of the stopping distance, and keep an eye out for any hazards – if there's heavy rain there may be flooding or debris.
"Be patient, plan ahead and have a contingency plan if something happens and traffic is blocked."
Owen advised motorists to check their travel time with the transport agency's predictive tool, which had been accurate in forecasting busy periods over previous long weekends.
"We encourage people to go on and look at when the busiest times are going to be, and if they can avoid those times that will make their journey a bit easier and a bit smoother."
"It just gives people some indication that if you are travelling through those busy periods, you will need to allow extra time because it is inevitable there will some delays."